August 26, 2010

New nutrition options taking shape for VUMC

New nutrition options taking shape for VUMC

One year ago, a Medical Center Food Advisory Committee came together at the request of Vanderbilt University Medical Center leadership to conduct a comprehensive analysis of available on-campus food options for employees and visitors.

Committee members were selected to represent diverse segments of the Medical Center including faculty, staff, students, patients and their family members.

The Food Advisory Committee was formed to meet one aspect of the Medical Center's overall mission to advance health and wellness for its patients, students, faculty and staff.

One of these missions is to strive for higher standards for nutritional options available on campus.

As a result of the Committee's findings, a number of changes will be implemented in the coming months to reshape nutritional offerings available throughout the Medical Center.

Among those changes:

• A new selection of lower-priced items in the TVC's Courtyard Cafeteria will take effect Sept. 7, the Tuesday after Labor Day. In addition, the Courtyard Café will bring a broader selection of healthy menu options and better awareness for customers of nutritional and caloric content.

• The current lease with McDonald's expires at the end of January 2011, and VUMC has signed a letter of intent with vendor Au Bon Pain to assume operations in the current McDonald's location. Au Bon Pain, which has 240 U.S. locations, including 34 located within medical facilities, has agreed to comparable menu pricing.

• Au Bon Pain will allow staff, faculty and students to phone in orders for pick up.

• Additionally, a new full service food vendor is planned to occupy the current vending machine area located on the second floor, S-corridor within Medical Center North.

“The Food Advisory Committee has done a thorough job analyzing all facets of our on-campus nutritional offerings, such as cost, convenience, throughput and the capability of the vendor to partner with the Medical Center on nutritional and wellness initiative and impact to our visitors, students faculty and staff,” said George DeLong, associate hospital director for Support Services and Supply Chain and chair of the Food Advisory Committee.

“After this thoughtful analysis, we have developed a blueprint that will offer more varied and healthy meal options throughout all of our on-campus eateries,” DeLong said.

A number of specific criteria were examined by the Food Advisory Committee, including: nutritional values, pricing, menu variety, food safety record, healthy menu options, nutritional information availability, speed of service, hours of operation and a willingness to partner with VUMC on specific nutrition initiatives.

“The new vendor was selected to sign a letter of intent based on several distinct criteria including their willingness to partner on nutritional initiatives, such as fresh food offerings and placing a nutritional kiosk within the venue which gives customers the ability to identify appropriate menu items by specific dietary concerns, such as potential food allergens, and the capability to review full nutritional information on any individual menu item,” DeLong said.

Ongoing work of the Food Advisory Committee includes developing a strategic plan as it relates to healthy eating and maintaining menu variety, providing more 24/7 venues, reviewing cafeteria offerings as they relate to menu selections and providing additional educational materials at all VUMC cafeterias.